Hadi Partovi (born 1972) is an Iranian-American businessperson. He has co-founded companies including Tellme Networks and iLike. Additionally, he was the group program manager for Internet Explorer as well as general manager of MSN at Microsoft, and later served as a Senior Vice President at MySpace. Partovi is an angel investor, as well as CEO and co-founder of the non-profit organization Code.org.
Partovi was born in 1972 in Tehran, Iran and has an identical twin brother, Ali. They are the grandchildren of Majid Khosrowshahi, the cofounder of pharmaceutical conglomerate KBC—a company nationalized in 1980 after the Iranian Revolution. The twins’ father was the founding professor of Physics at Sharif University of Technology. Partovi and his family left Iran in 1984 for the United States, where his parents worked three different jobs in two different cities to keep them afloat. Since that time several of Partovi’s relatives went on to found or run major US companies. Partovi attended Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor's and master's degrees in computer sciences in 1994.
While employed at Microsoft, Partovi was involved in the development of Internet Explorer, becoming the group program manager for the browser. In 1997, Partovi began work on how web-installed software was issued or updated. He worked with Tom Thai to create the first automatic software downloads and updates, using XML. The first release of this work was in December 1997, as a part of Internet Explorer 4.01. Partovi later led the development of Internet Explorer 5.0. Afterwards, Partovi co-founded Tellme Networks with Mike McCue, his chief rival at Netscape, in 1999. Tellme created software that allowed telephones to access the Internet through voice commands, expanding the range of Internet content that users could access.
In addition to his duties as an executive at Tellme, Partovi personally recruited new employees from universities. The company was acquired by Microsoft in 2007 for $700 million. In the early 2000s, Partovi became the general manager of MSN’s music and entertainment division. By 2004, Partovi led MSN Music to compete directly against Apple and iTunes. Part of Microsoft’s strategy was to attempt to overtake iTunes in Europe. During this tenure, Partovi led the development of Start.com, a project he incubated, which later became Live.com. He eventually became the general manager of the MSN portal itself, before resigning in October 2005.
Partovi and his brother Ali founded iLike in 2007 as a social music site, a startup that grew out of Garageband.com. iLike helped users discover music matching their preferences, allowed users to share playlists with their friends, in addition to distributing free MP3s, and producing concert alerts. The platform also allowed artists to create their own interactions with fans on the site through their artist pages. The site had ten thousand users within its first thirteen hours, thirty thousand more within the five hours after that, and a million users within its first few weeks. It would go on to have 55 million users and 1.5 billion monthly impressions. Partovi served as the company’s president. Soon after the launch the company produced a Facebook app, and iLike became one of that site’s most popular, becoming the most popular application on the site. At first the app was an external application on Facebook itself, but then began to port back to iLike.com. Partovi and his brother sold the company to MySpace in 2009 for $20 million. After this, Partovi became the Senior Vice President of Technology at the company’s NewsCorp unit, a position he left in 2010.
Partovi is a venture capitalist and angel investor, working with his brother Ali. Over the course of the 2000s, Partovi was an investor on Dropbox, and close advisor to the company’s founders. He was also an investor in companies including BlueKai, Flixster, IronPort, Practice Fusion, Facebook, Zappos, and Airbnb during their early investment rounds, in addition to making investments in green energy companies like BrightFarms. Partovi was then an investor in Vamo, which was sold to Airbnb in September 2015. In addition to financial investments, Partovi has taken on executive or board positions with some of these companies. In 2010 Partovi the board of directors of TASER International and he invested in and became joined the Technology Advisory Board for Opower. In 2014 the San Jose Mercury News wrote that Partovi and his brother had “quietly emerge[d] as top Silicon Valley angel investors”.
Partovi has advocated for children learning how computers and the Internet work in the same way that other sciences are taught in US schools. To this end he launched the non-profit Code.org with his brother Ali in 2013, with the goal of getting every US school to teach computer programming. In the first two years, around one hundred million people engaged in the organization’s “Hour of Code” lessons, including US President Barack Obama. Partovi is CEO of the organization, which prepares educators to teach computer science, and also works with government organizations to establish policies that support computer science. In June 2015, Washington State passed House Bill 1813 in part due to Code.org and Partovi’s efforts, which intends to increase the number of minority women in advanced high school computer classes. In 2014 Partovi testified before the United States House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology.
Partovi is a trained pianist and mountain climber, having climbed peaks including Mount Rainier. He is also a contributor to publications including TechCrunch and LinkedIn Pulse.